How many illegal aliens will die before the Bush Administration
realizes that the most humane act it can take is to close our southern
border to illegal traffic and eliminate the incentive to unscrupulous
smugglers to take the calculated risk that financial profits outweigh
the costs of getting caught? This month's death from dehydration and
heatstroke of 19 people out of 100 crammed into a tractor-trailer near
Houston is only the latest in a long series of similar tragedies.
The profitable racket of smuggling illegals into the United States
in sealed trucks has been going on for years, and only death makes it
newsworthy. Trucks ought to be inspected when they cross the border,
for the illegal aliens' protection as well as for American sovereignty.
Smugglers reap millions of dollars in profits. They collect their
fees up front, then often abandon their clients in desert areas without
food or water, or hold them hostage in "drop houses" for ransom from
relatives ($800 to $2,500 per person was quoted in Phoenix).
Last year, 145 illegals died horrible and painful deaths in the
Arizona desert. Smuggling is accompanied by a huge increase in violent
crimes, including murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping.
Yet, only 140 new federal agents were assigned to the U.S.-Mexico
border in Arizona this year. That's a pitiful response compared to
tens of thousands who invade our territory every year.
Congress and the Administration are toying with plans to use
state-of-the-art technology to monitor the activities of law-abiding
Americans, and are now using camera-equipped, unmanned spy planes in
Afghanistan to hunt for terrorists. When are we going to use our
advanced technology on our border, including surveillance planes,
electric fences, and, yes, U.S. troops to protect the states against
"invasion" as required by Article IV of the U.S. Constitution?
The leader of a ring that smuggled about 900 illegal aliens during
the 1990s was convicted in April after two of his passengers died in a
sweltering tractor-trailer near Dallas. Each week, the smuggler would
bring up to five loads of aliens to safe houses in El Paso where they
would be picked up to be hauled to eager U.S. employers nationwide.
A Florida farm labor contractor was sentenced in April for luring
illegal aliens into a smuggling operation that left 14 dead and 11
others to suffer in the Arizona desert after they were abandoned by
their "coyote." Last year, 94 people were prosecuted in Colorado for
smuggling illegal aliens.
A Tijuana restaurant owner pled guilty to running a smuggling ring
that brought illegal aliens, mostly from Lebanon, through Mexico into
San Diego. People-smugglers are bringing people from Pakistan and the
Middle East into the United States for as much as $30,000 a person.
The leader of a ring that smuggled over a thousand Ukrainians into
the United States through Mexico was sentenced in March to 17 years in
prison. The smuggling operation began in Kiev, Ukraine, where people
(referred to as "merchandise") paid fees of $5,000 to $7,000 each, were
provided with Mexican tourist visas, coached to say "United States
citizen" without a Russian accent, flown to Mexico and escorted to Los
Accidents are a common occurrence, even on highways far from the
border, when vans carrying illegal aliens crash because of high speeds,
incompetent drivers going the wrong way or inability to read English
signs. The injured have to be cared for in local hospitals at the
In San Diego in December, 6 illegals were killed and 16 injured in
a wrong-way lights-off head-on crash on the interstate, and two were
killed and 20 injured in another crash in March. In Bowie, Kansas, in
February, a van rolled over killing 3 and hospitalizing 15.
Near Fort Smith, Arkansas in March, 5 aliens were hospitalized
after a head-on crash. Last week's crash when a tractor-trailer driven
by an illegal alien jackknifed in the new Boston Big Dig tunnel will
cost the taxpayers $500,000.
In populated areas of California and Arizona, the illegal traffic
often moves through tunnels, of which U.S. officials say there may be
"at least 100, if not several hundreds." A truck will park over the
U.S. end of the tunnel, and bundles of drugs are handed up through a
hole in the trailer's floor.
On April 4 in a parking lot near San Diego, U.S. authorities found
a sophisticated tunnel with electricity, ventilation and a million-
dollar pulley system. It was the fifth secret passageway discovered
along that county's border in the past 14 months.
The federal government has appropriated $695,000 to clean up the
trash and waste in southeast Arizona to cope with the environmental
damage caused by this human traffic. Arizonans say they need $62.9
million and 93 more employees to repair the damage and to protect
against the threat of wildfires from mountains of trash.
We certainly can't depend on Mexico to stop this invasion of
illegals. U.S. authorities estimate that smugglers will spend $500
million this year in bribes and payoffs to Mexican military and police
to protect this illicit traffic.
Phyllis Schlafly is the author of "Feminist Fantasies" (Spence
Pub. Co., 2003)